Culture

The Corner

Let’s Give Suicidal People in 70s Poison Pills!

Phillip Nitschke is the Jack Kevorkian of Australia–without the dead K’s courage, as he avoids being at the assisted suicides he helps facilitate to avoid legal entanglements.

Still, he has had his troubles. Back in 2001, I was instrumental in alerting the Australian government that he was importing “Exit Bags,” plastic bags with Velcro ties that were to be put over one’s head after swallowing barbiturates. Those were soon banned and N become semi-persona non grata in his own country.

That effort was aided mightily by Kathryn Lopez, who interviewed N here at NRO, and got him to admit he wanted assisted suicides to be available to “troubled teens.” From her interview:

I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner, or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency. So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge, or resources to find out how to “give away” their life.

And someone needs to provide this knowledge, training, or recourse necessary to anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, [and] the troubled teen.

If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of sub-groups who don’t meet our criteria.

I used that interview to great effect whilst on my Nitschke hunt down-under–to the point that he was pressured by other advocates to deny he ever said it. But I had the proof!

Still, N remains a rock star of the euthanasia movement and travels the world teaching people how to off themselves.

As Australian states are again debating legalizing assisted suicide–the biggest threat currently is in Victoria–Nitschke remains true to the principles and values of the euthanasia movement–without sugar-coating the poison (a candor he shares with the late Kevorkian) as so many of his colleagues do.

The euthanasia movement has two fundamental principles. The second is an absolutist belief in personal autonomy. The first, which can override the second in certain circumstances to permit non-voluntary euthanasia, is that killing/suicide is a proper answer to human suffering.

That is why limiting encouraged suicide to those with a terminal illness is nonsensical. That restriction is just the proverbial camel nose under the tent.

Nitschke recently told Aussie media that suicide pills should be made available to anyone over seventy who wants to die (he actually believes anyone who wants to die, see Lopez’s interview quoted above.) From the Sky News Australia story:

‘Rational people make decisions, and of course suicide is not a crime,’ he told Sky News on Monday.

‘The only assistance people want is access to the best drugs. You don’t have to actually assist you simply have to remove the restrictions on the best drugs.

‘What’s being proposed here is that elderly people have a right to get the best drugs.’

Mr Nitschke says people over the age of 70 should be able to have legal access to 10mg of Nembutal to use ‘if they wish’.

It’s funny how the media keep forgetting that Nitschke has been saying such things for decades.

But I am glad they rediscover him periodically and report what he says.

Nitschke represents the true face of the euthanasia movement, one mostly kept hidden as a political tactic by assisted suicide promoters behind euphemisms of “compassion” and “choice” and toothless “guidelines to protect against abuse.”

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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